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During my years growing up in southern Louisiana, I always felt I didn’t belong to the southern societal standard. One aspect of me that is seen as diverse is that I am an atheist in a prominently religious community which made it harder for me to connect with people in the area I grew up in. Another reason I couldn’t connect is that I don’t enjoy activities that my peers did, like hunting and fishing. I always felt like an outcast growing up. Most of my peers also enjoyed drinking and camping, and those things did not appeal to me. The middle and high schools I attended were not very diverse at all.
The concept of someone having different interest than what was considered normal was foreign to most of my schoolmates throughout middle school and high school. Then, when I started middle school, I started to notice all of my classmates fitting into groups of friends with similar interests; however, I still couldn’t find a group that would accept me for who I was. I thought about pretending to be interested in the things that most kids my age took interest in to feel like I belonged, but in the back of my head, I knew that it would be wrong to pretend to be someone I’m not. I didn’t want people to like me for who I was pretending to be; I wanted them to like me for who I really was. My class comprised of only about 100 students, which didn’t give me much opportunity to meet new people.
Throughout middle school, I didn’t have a best friend or even a group of friends that I could talk to because I felt as if I were too different from everybody else, which made me feel very lonely. As soon as high school began, I noticed not much had changed since middle school; however, one thing that did change was that my classmates would tease me because of my indifference. For example, I distinctly remember one particular day in my freshman art class. One of the more popular girls in my class had just figured out I was an atheist and started being inquisitive towards me about it. I answered any questions she had about my belief in religion or lack thereof respectfully, but she insisted on ridiculing my answers and teasing me for my responses. Just because I did not have the same beliefs as this girl she felt the need to try and belittle my beliefs and call me stupid for having my own beliefs. She continued to tease me in front of the whole class because I had a different view on a topic that was not considered normal to her.
From that day on, everyone in my high school knew I was an atheist because of the ridicule that she gave me. Then and there I realized that I never wanted to be anything like that. I’d never belittled someone just because I have a different view on something as they do. The whole situation made me feel like even more of an outcast because people in my school seemed to not want to associate with a person who was an atheist.
In conclusion, I don’t believe that in any circumstance it is right to tease someone just because they don’t have the same opinion on something as you do. Younger people, such as high schoolers tend to always think what they believe is right and this is just simply not the case. Respect is a very critical aspect when dealing with someone who is different from you. Always respect someone beliefs or point of view on something as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. I learned throughout my years of high school that respecting someone’s opinion on something, even if it is different from your own opinion, can help you build a better character. Everyone thinks differently and is entitled to their own opinion, just because someone has a different belief or opinion on something as you do doesn’t mean that they are wrong.
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